As the curtain closed on the traditional fashion weeks of New York, London, Paris and Milan, one waited in the wings. Berlin’s showcase was brewing, ready to serve its lesser-known concoction of thriving talent to those who have faith in the underground. The audience who stayed for the four-day performance saw everything you’d expect from a place known for monochrome, effortless edge and exquisite 24-hour raves.
Since the Berlin Wall’s 1989 fall triggered a lasting urge to party, the city has been host to Europe’s best electronic dance scene. At this stage, we’re calling that a fact. And incredible raves attract incredibly-dressed attendees, sharing signifiers of music’s timeless subcultures – so, as an artistically exhibitionist culture, why is Berlin Fashion Week still largely dismissed against the main four? The latest season proved it shouldn’t be. Though designers voiced their uncertainty of Berlin’s ability to cater to them, the distinctly urban aesthetic and identity of the city’s known culture seeped through in so many forms.
It was a broken-hearted few days, with many referencing the invasion of Ukraine, exploring the horrific nature of what is going on next door in its neighboring Poland. There was an air of emptiness in the intricate designs because during a war, fashion just feels frivolous and unhelpful – it’s for that reason that Polish Berlin-based designer Dawid Tomaszweski cancelled his show, donating the tens of thousands that he would have spent to organizations helping Ukrainian asylum seekers.
BFW, therefore, became a period of reflection yet it also presented a force of talent to be celebrated. The city should be proud of its resilience, so now, let’s step into its layered scene of raw, exciting creativity.
The final Thursday event of “PP1P” (The past and the present in Poland) by SF1OG fuelled a flood of post-show murmurs saying it was the best of the week. If sustainable fashion ever meant hand-me-downs and basics, it sure doesn’t now: the recycled streetwear of SF1OG gives deconstructed cool, pushing the boundaries of avant-garde everyday wear with structure and functionality. According to SF1OG designer Rosa M.Dahl, Berlin is at the core of it all, “It’s a very creative, diverse and open-minded city which makes it easy to feel free to follow your heart.”
The brothers behind OBS Official know how to execute cutting edge yet simple design. Hand-crafted in Germany, their streetwear, jewellery, ceramics and leather accessories are the epitome of urban minimalism. Co-founder Matthias Schweizer, who creates alongside his brother Johannes said, “The techno scene is really big in Germany and it has this engineering vibe which we have brought into our designs.” Think razor-sharp construction complimenting timelessly cool basics.
If the Berlin you know and love is flashing lights and sexually-charged techno then Namilia is gagging to be worn by you. Crossing Power Ranger with fashion raver, her looks have dressed Sza, Kali Uchis, Dua Lipa, Rihanna and so many hot stars. Berlin-based founders Nan Li and Emilia Pfohl ultimately use the brand to “demand the empowerment and celebration of a radically new and youthful understanding of feminism.” We’re into it.
First off, don’t call Hund Hund a classic fast fashion label. The couple behind the brand – you won’t see them at any industry parties – make just enough clothes to sell every piece, and it all seems to sell out. Alongside her partner Rohan Michael Hoole, designer Isabel Kücke has finessed the mood of Berlin’s sophisticatedly edgy street style set. Contributing to the culture, Hund Hund’s zine, which comes with every order, is the ultimate message of its devotion to the community, filled with the stories of emerging Berlin creatives.
At just two years old, Olivia Ballard’s eponymous label was born organically through her hometown’s collaborative arts scene. The designer made her slinky mesh dresses for her friends, which then became the uniform of local DJs and club-goers – “Berlin is a beautiful place for making things because you have this intersection between so many different art forms so there’s a willingness for cross-collaboration. It’s beautiful because you’re able to bring all these people together and there’s a warmth between people working in so many different mediums.”